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horseradishSeatbelts are required for the major horsepower under the lid of this week’s large TakeHome case. What may look like an innocent twig is as powerful as a Hemi 426 engine on nitro. This little veggie is gonna lift your wig.

This root is Horseradish in its original form. It comes from the fertile volcanic soil of Tulelake, CA (Siskiyou County) where Jacqui and David Krizo have been farming horseradish organically for nearly 40 years under the name “Volcanic!” Cultivation of Horseradish dates back to Egyptian times. It gained popularity as a condiment in Middle Europe and is now grown around the world.

Spring and fall are the main harvest times for this powerful root. Many cultures’ spring feasts are dotted with Horseradish. It figures prominently into the Jewish Passover Seder meal customs. As part of the Passover tableau, a bitter herb, such as Horseradish, is used to symbolize the harshness of slavery for the Jews in Ancient Egypt. Yiddish storyteller Shalom Aleichem wrote "Horseradish that does not bring a pious tear to the eye is not God’s horseradish."

If you haven't had fresh grated Horseradish you are in for a treat. Peel the outer layer and grate the white root. The root won't be pungent until it is cut. That is because Horseradish, a mustard relative, contains an enzyme, sinigrin (a glucosinolate), that when broken down becomes allyl isothiocyanate (aka mustard oil). The aroma is strong and may irritate eyes and noses, so be cautious. An old trick on the Lower East Side of New York is to take your Horseradish and cutting board to the windowsill at the fire escape and lower the window enough so your hands work on the outside and the glass protects you nose.

Grated Horseradish placed in an airtight container will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. A sprinkle of fresh grated Horseradish, or combined with cream, will add zest to cooked dishes or sandwiches. We expect you will find fresh Horseradish will leave the store-bought jar versions in the dust.

- Heidi Lewis


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